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About Vajra Regent Ösel Tendzin

Ösel Tendzin was born Thomas Frederick Rich, Jr., in Passaic, New Jersey, on June 28, 1943. He first encountered his guru, Vidyadhara the Venerable Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in 1971, in Boulder, Colorado, and made an instant and strong connection with him. Later that year, Trungpa Rinpoche asked him to be his dharma heir, and formally empowered him as Vajra Regent in 1976.

For a biography of the Vajra Regent, click HERE.

For a biography of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, click HERE.


Empowerment of the Vajra Regent

Replace photo with photo of empowerment proclamation.

Photo text: Proclamation of Ösel Tendzin's Appointment as Vajra Regent (Tib: Dorje Gyaltsap)

VROT Empowerment Proclamation.png
  • Excerpts from Empowerment Ceremony Audio, Vidyadhara the Venerable Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. 

  • Photos of the Event. 


  • Remarks from The Three Lineages Vajra Assembly, Vidyadhara the Venerable Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.


  To see these on the Timeline, click HERE

Remarks by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

“Both Trungpa Rinpoche and the Vajra Regent manifested all the qualities of genuine dharma. Therefore, the Vajra Regent was able to take his seat and empower and guide his own students. The instructions given by Trungpa Rinpoche became American through their presentation by the Vajra Regent. They have the full profundity of the original instructions, but they were enriched by the Vajra Regent’s experience of practicing them in the unique context of present-day America. They have to be put into practice constantly and passed on to your children and not be lost. It is of the utmost importance that the teachings that come from the wisdom and experience of an American lineage holder not be lost.”

Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche     

Excerpts from the Biography of the Vajra Regent

     Vidyadhara the Venerable Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Vajra Regent Ösel Tendzin worked closely together on many projects, including the creation of the Shambhala Training Program. Trungpa Rinpoche set out the vision and described the Shambhala principles; the Vajra Regent developed the format and logic of each weekend level. He taught the first Level One in 1977 and many Shambhala Training programs throughout his life.

     After Trungpa Rinpoche returned from a year-long retreat in 1977, and during the next few years, both he and the Vajra Regent went on extended teaching tours. When they taught together, many students found the continuity between them extremely powerful. There was a beautiful synchronicity in their talks and their artistic creations. The Vajra Regent traveled around the U.S. and the world, teaching seminars and intensive training sessions. Many of these formed the basis for the material in his book, Buddha in the Palm of Your Hand, which was published in 1982.

     In 1985, Trungpa Rinpoche relocated the headquarters of his umbrella organization from Boulder, Colorado, to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Vajra Regent and his family moved to take up residence there, and he guided the sangha through this transition, as well as through the difficult period following Trungpa Rinpoche’s passing into Parinirvana in 1987.

     Throughout his teaching career, he visited many Dharma centers in North America and Europe, and presided over the 1988 Vajradhatu Seminary, a three-month program founded by Trungpa Rinpoche in which students received a comprehensive presentation of the Buddhist journey.

     The Vajra Regent was both the model of a devoted student and an inspiring teacher. In addition to his teaching and administrative duties, he also practiced dharma art, including calligraphy, poetry, and photography.

     His example was powerful as well as provocative. Through his inspiration, joyful energy, and hard work, he was a bridge for many students, enabling them to encounter the teachings of Buddhism and Shambhala and embark upon the practice of meditation. He played a vital role in the task of planting these profound spiritual teachings firmly in the Western world.

Photographs of the Vajra Regent

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